Humboldt Penguin

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					Native Range Map                                      Humboldt Penguin
                                               Kingdom: Animalia
                                               Phylum: Chordata
                                               Subphylum: Vertebrata
                                               Class: Aves
                                               Order: Spenisciformes
                                               Family: Spheniscidae
                                               Genus: Spheniscus
                                               Species: humboldti

                                                                                                               Photo courtesy of Janet Wisneski
          • In the Wild: The Humboldt penguins are found along the West Coast of South America from Peru to
              Chile. They are named after the cold Humboldt Current running from the Antarctic to the equator. They
              nest along the rocky coastal areas and the neighboring islands where the terrain is suitable for
              constructing nesting burrows. The arid climate in Peru and northern Chile means the burrows are not at
              risk of flooding because of heavy rains. In central Chile where the climate is more temperate, there is a
              risk of flooding during the rainy season in autumn and winter. Water temperatures range from 32 to 70
              degrees Fahrenheit and air temperatures from 25 to 75 degrees.
          • Exhibit Location: Wildlife Trails (Penguin Coast)
              Penguin Coast is designed to support 15 pairs of penguins plus their offspring. Land area is designed to
              mimic the arid Peruvian and Chilean coast, with nest tunnels incorporated into the landscape. Pool
              capacity is approximately 50,000 gallons of fresh water to a depth of 12 feet, with underwater viewing
              included in the design. Water temperature is kept at 50º F during coldest weather and 60º F during the
              summer. The holding area is visible during periods of time when penguins are not on exhibit, such as
              cleaning and molting. Lighting allows for after-hour events in the visitor pavilion. Heated rocks and
              sufficient nesting burrows allow the penguins to remain in the exhibit during colder CNY winters. During
              extreme winter weather of 20º or below, the penguins are kept inside their heated holding where they can
              still be viewed by the public, but not subjected to the weather. In the hotter temperatures of the summer,
              the penguins enjoy their pool filled with cooler water, misters to keep them cool, and their air-conditioned
              holding areas.

          • The Humboldt penguins are medium-sized birds (15 -18 inches tall) weighing between 6 and 13 pounds.
             Penguins have feathers that are denser than most other types of birds, having as many as 70 feathers per
             square inch. These feathers are spaced very closely. They also have a thick layer of down to help keep
             the birds warm. The feathers are white on the belly with a black band around the chest and spots on the
             breast. They have black backs and tails. The face is black but separated from the head and neck by a
             white border. The bill is black with a white band near the tip and serrated. Females are slightly smaller
             than the males. Young birds are primarily slate gray across the head and back and lack the bold double
             stripe of the adults.
          • Penguins’ bones are solid and heavy, which help them to remain submerged and reduce the energy
             needed for pursuit diving.
          • Adult penguins are countershaded (dark dorsal, light ventral) which helps to conceal swimming penguins
             from predators. When viewed from above, the dark dorsal side blends in with the darker ocean depths.
             When viewed from beneath, the light ventral side helps them blend in with the lighter surface of the sea.
          • Humboldt penguins have a gland which enables them to drink salt water in addition to fresh water; the
             gland concentrates excess salt which then dribbles down the bill.
          • Lifespan: In the Wild 20 years; In Captivity over 30 years

          • They live in rookeries with other Humboldt penguins and nest in underground burrows among the rocks
              and guano (accumulated droppings found where large colonies of animals occur and rich in plant
       humboldtpenguinlg                                                                      Edition Date – 6/5/2006
                           Researched and written by the Friends of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo Education Volunteers
          nutrients), on cliffs or find crevices in which to lay their eggs. Adults feed close to nesting sites during the
          breeding season, but during the winter they may migrate several hundred miles before returning to the
          breeding site. After the chicks have fledged, the penguins leave the breeding site to forage at sea for
          weeks before returning to molt. After the molt they return to the sea to regain weight and condition to
          begin the breeding season again.
     •    When food is scarce, the parents feed only the larger chick and the smaller chick quickly starves.
     •    Penguins communicate by vocalizing and performing physical behaviors called “displays”. They use
          many vocal and visual displays to communicate mating territories and information. They also use
          displays in partner and chick recognition and defense against intruders.
     •    Penguins are among the most social of all birds.
     •    Humboldt penguins are one of the most timid species of penguins.
     •    Because of their normal arid (not arctic) climate, these penguins huddle together for safety and not
     •    Enrichments at the Zoo: Broadcast feeding, dog toys, live fish and nesting materials

   • Sexual maturity is reached between 2 and 7 years old. Mates are usually chosen for life.
   • The main breeding season is from March to April and September to October. Two eggs are laid over a
      period of 2-4 days with incubation taking 40-42 days and both adults share the incubation. Chicks hatch
      about 2 days apart. They remain in the nest while the adults leave in the morning and return with food
      later in the day. As the chicks grow, the adults remain at sea longer to satisfy the growing chicks. The
      chicks fledge about 10–12 weeks of age and leave the breeding site for several months to forage at sea.
      Humboldts can rear 2 successive broods each year when conditions are favorable.

    •     In the Wild: small schooling fish such as anchovies, sardines, squid and crustaceans
    •     At the Zoo: Capelin (most nutritional value; fed in most abundance daily, antimalarial medication added
          during mosquito season), smelt (daily), herring (favorite, daily, antifungal medication added for stressed
          birds) and silversides (“penguin candy”, used in training and as treats). Molting birds are fed hydrated
          fish. The penguins are fed 2-3 times/day, including hand feeding to ensure proper medications/food
          amount and broadcast feeding as enrichment to encourage diving, swimming and “porpoising”
          (leaping/diving similar to porpoise behavior).

Conservation Status
   • IUCN status: Vulnerable on Red List 2000 – estimated at 40,000 in the wild; CITES: Appendix I
   • There are many factors in the decline of the Humboldt penguin population. They are affected by weather
      patterns like El Nino events. These bring seasons of food shortages. The normally cool nutrient rich
      water of the Humboldt Current is replaced with warmer water flowing from the central Pacific. Being the
      top predator in the marine ecosystem, the loss of nutrients causes the penguins to face starvation in El
      Nino years. Overfishing in habitat areas is also a factor and the entanglements in the nets cause the death
      of many adults. The harvesting of guano for fertilizer leaves nothing in which the birds can burrow.
   • Natural predators include gulls, vultures, caracaras, foxes, pinnipeds and cetaceans. When in the water,
      penguins may be eaten by leopard seals, fur seals, sea lions, sharks or killer whales.
   • Chile has passed a 30-year moratorium on killing or capturing birds. In Peru the major colonies are
      protected and the government manages the extraction of guano. There are propositions creating marine
      nature reserves around the main breeding grounds.
   • A Species Survival Plan managed by AZA controls the breeding of Humboldt penguins in order to
      maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population.

Did You Know?/Fun Facts
   • All penguins live south of the equator from Antarctica to Ecuador.
   • Penguin wings are paddle-like flippers used for swimming, not flying. They steer with their feet and tail.

humboldtpenguinlg                                                                      Edition Date – 6/5/2006
                    Researched and written by the Friends of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo Education Volunteers
     •    Penguins can run as fast as most men and swim faster than most fish. They are perfectly adapted to a half-
          life between land and sea. Humboldt penguins can swim up to 20 mph.
     •    Penguins use the sun to navigate from land to sea. They adjust for the sun's changing position in the sky
          throughout the day.
     •    Humboldt penguins can blush. When they get too hot (it can get up to 108 degrees (F) where they live),
          they have to avoid over-heating. So they flush pink on their face, wings and feet. This sheds body heat by
          sending blood to the bare part of their bodies.

   • International Penguin Conservation Working Group, (n.d.). Humboldt penguin. Retrieved Apr. 24, 2005,
        from IPCWG Web site:
   • International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, (n.d.). Spheniscus humboldti.
        Retrieved Apr. 24, 2005, from 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Web site:
   • Penguin Taxon Advisory Group, (n.d.). Humboldt. Retrieved Apr. 24, 2005, from Penguin Taxon
        Advisory Group Web site:
   • SeaWorld Busch Gardens, (n.d.).Penguins. Retrieved Apr. 24, 2005, from SeaWorld/Busch Gardens
        ANIMALS Web site:
   • The Antarctic Connection, (n.d.). Wildlife of antarctica - humboldt penguin. Retrieved Jun. 14, 2005,
        from Antarctic Connection Web site:
   • United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre, (n.d.). Cites-listed
        species database. Retrieved Jun. 14, 2005, from UNEP-WCMC Web site: http://www.unep- html?
   • Wildscreen, (n.d.). Humboldt penguin (spheniscus humboldti). Retrieved Apr. 25, 2005, from
        ARKive|Images of Life on Earth Web site:
   • Woodland Park Zoological Society, (n.d.). Humboldt penguin - spheniscus humboldti. Retrieved Jun. 7,
        2005, from Woodland Park Zoo Web site:

humboldtpenguinlg                                                                      Edition Date – 6/5/2006
                    Researched and written by the Friends of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo Education Volunteers